The Last Stand
By Brad Ferguson
- The Last Stand
Author: Brad Ferguson
- Series: Star Trek
- Publisher: Simon and Schuster
- ISBN: 9780671501051
- Published: October 1995
- Pages: 288
- Format reviewed: Paperback
- Review date: 13/01/2020
- Language: English
Wars can go on for years. Not just the moments of action in which thousands of people die, but the cold wars between. Different factions may have an uneasy peace, but is this peace just an excuse to build for the next conflict? You may not imagine that Star Trek: The Next Generation is the best place to examine the concept of war, but in The Last Stand by Brad Ferguson is not only a great Star Trek book, but also an impressive allegory into the futility of war.
On a routine pass through an uncharted system the USS Enterprise stumbles across a pre-warp society on the planet Nem Ma'ak Bratuna – translates to The Last Stand. The Prime Directive instils in members of the Federation not to contact such a society, but after a mishap they are seen. Picard and the crew soon find themselves involved in a mysterious conflict – a seemingly peaceful society is being threatened by a series of slow-moving spaceships controlled by the nomadic and warlike Kreen. Can a genocide be avoided and what is the origins of this conflict?
The best Star Trek novels are those that take the ethos of the series, but also manage to produce a cracking story. Last Stand has many of the elements that make a classic Next Generation episode – new societies, conflict and the interpretation of the Prime Directive. Any fan of Trek will know that The Prime Directive sometimes feels like a very elastic rule as one minute they follow it, the next they do not. Kirk at times did not even seem to think it existed. In this book the directive becomes the crux of how Picard and co. handle the situation.
Things begin badly as the very presence of the Enterprise sparks a break in the Prime Directive, but this can be forgiven as a device for Ferguson to get the story rolling. What the book boils down to is an interesting philosophical puzzle. Do you get involved in a war that has nothing to do with you? What is even more interesting is that this is a conflict that has spanned generations. The colonists on Nem Ma'ak Bratuna live in relative peace, but what forced them to flee their original planet? An antient enemy has not forgotten and they set off on a slow intergenerational space flight to crush their foe.
There is not a huge amount of action in Last Stand as it is more of a book of diplomacy, but when things break down the stakes are high. One false move by Picard could lead to one or more entire societies being wiped out. Ferguson strikes a great balance between the two competing factions. There are no good guys or bad guys as they both have some justification for their actions.
The best elements of the book surround The Kreen. This is a people who have lived ship bound for centuries, their only mission in life to avenge their original home planet. What happens to this society when peace is proposed? Can they turn their back on the propaganda and reason for existence? It is a difficult choice to make and one that leads to many twists and turns.
I also enjoyed the apparent impotence that the crew of The Enterprise have. They are stuck in the middle of something that has been brewing for a long time. They must remain neutral, but can they really step back and watch one race or another be wiped out?
The Last Stand is the type of Star Trek tie in novel that makes them worth reading. It is a quick and interesting read that not only delves into Trek lore, but also poses questions about our world. As is the norm, there is no development of the crew, but Ferguson creates two races that you invest in. In this case The Enterprise acts as a conduit to tell the story of planet Nem Ma'ak Bratuna and The Kreen. Fans of Next Generation will feel that they are reading an episode that was never filmed, whilst general science fiction fans will still find themselves reading an enjoyably quick read that poses some interesting questions.
Written on 13th January 2020 by Sam Tyler .